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Monday 13 July 2009

Verity Murphy | 15:19 UK time, Monday, 13 July 2009

Here's what is coming up on tonight's programme:

From the web team:

Why are we in Afghanistan?

A poll carried out for BBC Newsnight and the Guardian suggests public opinion is split over the UK's mission in Afghanistan.

Of 1,000 people questioned, 47% said they opposed the British operation, while 46% said they supported it. A similar poll in 2006 found 31% backed the UK's action while 53% opposed it.

The UK forces death toll in Afghanistan has now matched that suffered in Iraq, and tonight in a special edition of Newsnight we'll be examining the government's Afghanistan strategy.

Our Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban will be scrutinising our objectives in Afghanistan - what is it our troops are fighting for? And he'll be analysing the British military's tactics - do our troops, who face a determined enemy in the Taliban, have enough resources?

One of the brigades badly hit in operations in Afghanistan is the Welsh Guards. Matt Prodger will be visiting South Wales to speak to some of their relatives and friends ahead of the
battalion's return to the UK in the autumn.

And Jeremy Paxman will be speaking to the government who claim the UK's Afghanistan mission is key to preventing terror attacks at home, and to relatives of those who have died in the fighting.

Do join him at 10.30pm on BBC Two.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    "Of 1,000 people questioned, 47% said they opposed the British operation, while 46% said they supported it. A similar poll in 2006 found 31% backed the UK's action while 53% opposed it."

    The implication of these sentences is that there has been a change of opinion. For this to be appropriate, then the circumstances would have to be similar also. At the time of the 2006 poll, Afghanistan was largely ignored in the media, and the concentration was on British deaths in Iraq.

    The poll details aren't published yet, but I hope you asked the same questions as in Sep 2006 as to why people thought the Brits were there -

    The answers then were

    To help the Afghan government fight the Taliban : 63%
    As part of the international fight against Al Qaeda terrorists : 71%
    To help stop the flow of drugs grown in Afghanistan : 46%
    Don't know why the troops have been sent there : 10%

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm looking forward to this night's edition.
    The poll, like all polls, is important only in the answers it receives to the question it asks, which originally was about "British troops" and how long they should remain in Afghanistan; I'm not sure the legitimacy or relevance of the war was put in question.

    I think what we see reflected in the poll results, therefore, is a form of solidarity with the troops, not support for the war.

    I'm intrigued to hear how fighting the Taliban stops terror in the UK; and putting troops in a position of perpetually struggling to punch above their weight seems to be the favoured strategy of HMG, unlike the US.

    A half hearted show of compliance with the US foreign policy aims in the region, fronted by a sadly out of his depth Bob Ainsworth, pushed to the front of the stage by Gordi, tactically calculating as ever.

    The US will leave Afghanistan in three years; we might be out shortly before that; we will have made no difference to the dynamics of the region; the US may have, particularly in Pakistan, which is more important strategically than Afghanistan ever will be, because of its nuclear weaponry.

    Pakistan is the key and Obama knows this, using his troop surge on the other side of the border to encourage, cajole and maybe even to threaten.

    Meanwhile soldiers and civilians continue to get killed while the politicians rationalize; 'twas ever so.

  • Comment number 3.

    Further to my #1

    I see UK Polling Report is suggesting that the poll shows a shift in why people think we are there. Now

    To help the Afghan government fight the Taliban : 78%
    As part of the international fight against Al Qaeda terrorists : 80%

    As happens in virtually every war, the propaganda message gets through.

  • Comment number 4.

    Brown - "The British armed forces are better equipped today than they have been at any time in 40 years"

    So what was the equipment of the troops like in 1969?

  • Comment number 5.

    And from the co-sponsor of the poll - the Guardian.

    "Today's poll findings show that 42% are in favour of the immediate withdrawal of British troops, and a further 14% want them home by the end of the year.

    These figures are almost identical to the results when ICM last asked the question in 2006. A further 36% want troops to stay as long as they are needed, again a similar proportion to 2006, when British casualties were lower."

  • Comment number 6.

    Poll answers depend on how the question(s) are phrased. What was the question this time and what was it last time.

    In November 2008: "More than two-thirds of Britons think UK troops should leave Afghanistan within a year, a BBC poll has found. Of 1,013 people polled, 68% - 59% men and 75% women - said troops should withdraw within 12 months."

    By some country's standards, the UK's army is tiny. If Afghanistan is such a threat to world terrorism, why isn't Indonesia, Bangladesh, Africa, China, and especially Israel fielding hundreds of thousands of troops to sort out that tiny country's alleged rebels? Why Britain? Is it because the USA and UK have powerful Israeli lobbys and the others (bar Israel) don't? Why does Britain and the USA think it can do what the USSR could not? Is it just a coincidence that Iraq and Afghanistan flank Iran?

  • Comment number 7.

    A poll carried out for BBC Newsnight and the Guardian

    As a matter of interest, as my experience is that polls often tend to reflect the views of those who commission them, how often has our objective national broadcaster shared itself in this way with the Guardian, and how often with other major national dailies? In the interests of balance, that is.

    It sort of becomes pertinent when such as the Guardian rather defensively point at extensive coverage of one their pet campaigns across the BBC as justification for the rest of the media firmament (and, or perhaps with a hint of why, the public) not being quite as excited as the sisterhood has managed to get itself. In fact I'm rather expecting this coverage being covered back and forth enough on the basis that if it gets repeated enough...

    After the last horro show that was the Politics Pen, might it not be an idea to stay away from any possible suggestions of pre-determinancy?

    I would love to know if (and if so, how) Aunty has ever shared herself with, say, the Daily Express. Or, maybe more appositely, the NoTW. A slightly larger readership than the Guardian (in fact at either end of the ABCs' I believe) and, possibly, more empathy with the squaddies on the ground perhaps?

    There are polls, damn polls, and 'Tonight, polls show...'.

  • Comment number 8.

    WHY ARE WE IN AFGHANISTAN?

    Because they have no air-power, no powerful allies, and no serious weaponry and equipment. And the bullyboy Americans are 'on our side'.

    It used to be called cowardice, but now it is 'War on Terror' aka Extreme Paintballing.

    Gumby Ainsworth should do a quick course in driving, and volunteer to be blown up.

  • Comment number 9.

    #7 JunkkMale

    "I would love to know if (and if so, how) Aunty has ever shared herself with, say, the Daily Express. Or, maybe more appositely, the NoTW. A slightly larger readership than the Guardian (in fact at either end of the ABCs' I believe) and, possibly, more empathy with the squaddies on the ground perhaps?"

    OK So you've been looking at Guido's blog - and it seems with the same lack of understanding of polling methodology.

  • Comment number 10.

    Love 2 see brown and the rest of the nulabour Cowards out there strutting their Stuff?

    Best place for them, how long would they last? 2 seconds would be TOO long for me.

  • Comment number 11.


    Is there any chance of the BBC journalists telling the UK taxpayers how much the War in Afghanistan is costing the taxpayer, sadly we can all see how much it is costing in human lives at the moment, It seems the journalists of BBC are very good at telling taxpayers how much the Banking Crisis has cost the UK,

    But when it comes to Wars the silence is deafening!

  • Comment number 12.

    Watched the wonderfull Top Gear last night,couldnt help but notice the small Hamelet? of TWATT, just a thought/Dream, if we sent all our politicians/judges/barristers/liars there how wonderfull a country we would have.

    We could compensate the Locals say a million quid each, we would save Trillions.

    I hereby Vote for gordon 2 be boss of TWATT

  • Comment number 13.

    Are the people of the UK prepared to fund this unnecessary war with more Lives, this War in Afghanistan could go on as long as the troubles in Ireland, and in the end nobody won that conflict it had to be settled by letting people who were called Terrorists for years, into Government.

    Young People of Britain Think Long and Hard before you throw your
    lives away, for the whims of politicians.

  • Comment number 14.

    The government would tell us we are invading countries like Iraq and Afgahnistan to stop the Taliban terror coming to the shores of Britain.
    (to late they are already here)
    They tell us it is to limit the flow of opium?
    (not happening, buying heroin in this country is as easy as buying sweets or guns)
    How many more young brits have got to sacrifice there lives for another war of propaganda?
    The UK and US always justify there invasions of places like Vietnam,Afgahnistan,Korea and Iraq with the same old battlecry "Don't worry the UK and US are here to set you and the world free from tyranny"
    What a crock! I don't feel safe boarding a bus in this country.

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 AverageCit

    "when it comes to Wars the silence is deafening!"

    The figures aren't exactly hard to find. Total spending for both wars will reach 4.37 billion pounds in the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2010, compared with 1.56 billion pounds in the year ended March 2006. source - Ministry of Defence figures published by the House of Commons Defence Committee.

  • Comment number 16.

    OOOO Auntie Beeb you surPass yourself.

    Post 12 Above is the one and Only Vote he/it would get from me.

    Q is he/it and the rest of nulabour a bunch of the Above.

    A is A A or A (2 easy init)

  • Comment number 17.

    #6; it certainly is no coincidence that Iraq and Afghanistan flank Iran; the respective borders were drawn up as part of the Versailles Treaty when the UK and France carved up the defeated Ottoman Empire between them; a byproduct was the creation of Palestine and Saudi Arabia; sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

  • Comment number 18.

    9. At 5:50pm on 13 Jul 2009, oldnat wrote:

    So, no answer to the actual question, then. And a snippy comment about an area of expertise you think you have but without actually sharing what it might be. I was not referring to the sample size for the poll, but rather the people to whom the results might get shared in tomorrow's editions, in case that makes a difference.

    I am just surprised you didn't manage to work in 'you lot' and 'Daily Mail' readers as well to tick every box in the checklist.

    But ta, as it seems it has been raised there too I will pop over to Guido in case a more competent debater does offer a better argument. And maybe some facts, too.



  • Comment number 19.

    #18; don't worry yourself about oldnat. I've read some of this blogger's stuff on the NNScotland blog which seems to have disappeared, unsurprisingly, since it was full of "snippy" comments, as you put it, mainly about how well they run things in Scotland as opposed to in "Westmidden", as they are wont to call the seat of HMG.

    Freedom!

  • Comment number 20.

    15# oldnat

    Do you really believe those figures! from the same Government who said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraqi.

  • Comment number 21.

    "...the government ... claims the UK's Afghanistan mission is key to preventing terror attacks at home..."

    No, not quite...

    The many hundreds of thousands of radicalized Muslims living in countries like Pakistan, Sudan & Iran must be laughing in their tea when hear such preposterous bunk!!

    The 'true key to preventing terror attacks at home'- whether the UK, US or other developed world nations- is a heavily funded, long-term multi-national strategy whose objectives are to enable moderate Muslims a reasonable ability to obtain majority control of power structures within (their) countries that have substantial populations of active or latent Muslims...

    Turkey's population is- at least compared to Pakistan, Sudan, etc- greatly secularized and enabled to live their lives without the oppression and human-rights abuses endemic in most other middle east 'Muslim majority countries'...

    Rather than pouring its scarce resources into Afghanistan,the UK ought to have retained its military and civil infrastructure development presence in southern Iraq- and worked to enable this needy area to- without affronting the reasonable tenets of Islam- become somewhat EU-like or at least Turkey-like, in terms of governance, economy and rule-of-law, etc...




    _____________________
    Roderick V. Louis,
    Vancouver, BC, Canada,
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 22.

    (RE-SUBMITTED, without e-mail address)



    "...the government ... claims the UK's Afghanistan mission is key to preventing terror attacks at home..."

    No, not quite...

    The many hundreds of thousands of radicalized Muslims living in countries like Pakistan, Sudan & Iran must be laughing in their tea when hear such preposterous bunk!!

    The 'true key to preventing terror attacks at home'- whether the UK, US or other developed world nations- is a heavily funded, long-term multi-national strategy whose objectives are to enable moderate Muslims a reasonable ability to obtain majority control of power structures within (their) countries that have substantial populations of active or latent radicalized Muslims...

    Turkey's population is- at least compared to Pakistan, Sudan, etc- greatly secularized and enabled to live their lives without the oppression and human-rights abuses endemic in most other middle east 'Muslim majority countries'...

    Rather than pouring its scarce resources into Afghanistan,the UK ought to have retained its military and civil infrastructure development presence in southern Iraq- and worked to enable this needy area to- without affronting the reasonable tenets of Islam- become somewhat EU-like or at least Turkey-like, in terms of governance, economy and rule-of-law, etc...




    _____________________
    Roderick V. Louis
    Vancouver, BC, Canada,


  • Comment number 23.

    #18 JunkkMale

    Now, there was me thinking that when you said "my experience is that polls often tend to reflect the views of those who commission them", that was what you meant.

    Turns out that wasn't what you meant at all. That was an electronic transmogrification of "I was not referring to the sample size for the poll, but rather the people to whom the results might get shared in tomorrow's editions".

    It was reasonable to assume that since you mentioned your "experience" that you would not only have known that ICM is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules, but what those rules are.

  • Comment number 24.

    "sow the wind, reap the whirlwind"

    Indeed it will be the case, if extremists get hold of Pak nukes and learn
    how to point and fire them at us.

    People talk about how no one has won in Afgan which gives out an inevitable pointlessness to it all . The above very real issue means it maywell have to be stepped up and Obama knows this. The normal nuke deterrent with extremist suicidal bombers will not apply. Its a whole different ball game; the west has got to go after them.

    This is what they are thinking. Its what Obama has to change :

    http://www.pedroguimaraes.net/fotocafe/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/simonnorfolk.jpg

  • Comment number 25.

    #20 AverageCit

    On the basis of the evidence presented, I didn't believe them (or their Tory allies) about WMD then.

    However, you were suggesting that there was silence about the war costs, and demanding that the BBC uncover them.

    I'm more surprised that you expect one arm of the British State to attack another.

  • Comment number 26.

    #19 kashibeyaz

    "NNScotland blog" - I don't know that one.

    "Westmidden" doesn't refer to "the seat of HMG", but to the constitutional sewer that you are pleased to call the "Palace" of Westminster.

  • Comment number 27.

    #11 Average Cit

    Oldnat's figures do look in the ballpark having gone through the MoD figures. But you are right to consider them a minimum.

    Most of the cost is the war in Afghanistan. approx £3.4-.5 billion. Iraq is now costing us less than a quarter of Afghanistan.

    But we need to look at the Afghan figures more closely. These are the MoD budgets/costs/projections. for 2009/10 financial year.

    Extra costs incurred come from the Treasury contingency fund. Now I am unclear at first reading of the accounts whether the £3.4 billion includes the extras born by the Treasury, not MoD budgets.

    Here we get a clue about the sustainability of the war. The MoD don't have to pay back the Treasury for 2 years. So in fact the Treasury is subbing the MoD at the moment. In 2 years the MoD have to start paying back the loan. So if the war is not over in two years not only will the MoD have to still pay for it, it will also be paying back the present loan for the war from the Treasury on top.

    Now you asked about total costs. Here I would suggest we have to look at Dept for International Development. Reconstruction and infrastructure cost will not come from the MoD but from DofID. So these need to be added.

    Also what about other costs. MI6, intelligence services, security etc.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 28.

    #27 KingCelticLion

    Good point about the reconstruction costs - especially when there is a cycle of build, destroy, build, destroy .....

  • Comment number 29.

    at last NN is tackling the subject most people are talking about whether to continue this madness of wasting young peoples lives on people who don't really want them there. Karsy is a dictator and a warlord and all the other associated thugs and henchmen at his behest. Are these the people Brown has said we have to support? Who does the research into these people? Please don't tell me that it is our security services, the 45 minute warning crowd, the dodgy dossier bunch, please don't tell me that this carnage last week is on information of troop levels of the Taliban is based on 'their' estimates, if we are then we are well out of it. Brave young men deserve the best and the best is get them home to their wives and families. This gang of politicians used up any goodwill we had for them years ago. They are a discredited bunch and no notice should be taken of them, and the killer fact is...none of their sons are out there.....

  • Comment number 30.

    #11

    AverageCit

    The UK cost (in money terms) for the UK military effort in Afghanistan was discussed in the Politics Show yesterday.

    You can watch it on the BBC IPlayer here (interview starts at 4.2 mins in).

    I don't know what costs Dfid has been running up in it's efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • Comment number 31.

    #28 Oldnat

    Just got to walk to the shop.

    What you have initiated is a very important thread for discussion. Something that I guarantee NN will not cover, nor the media. Every time I asked Government Depts I got the equivalent of somebody standing with their fingers in their ears singing loudly sorry I can't hear you.

    You have entered into a massive area of legality and policy.

    Think about the implication of #28

    Back in a bit.

  • Comment number 32.

    I do hope that Mr Paxman will tonight raise the issue of the lack of helicopter support in Afghanistan, and not be diverted by today's Government claims that there has been an 84% increase, and in the current stage of operations of final assault that helicopters are not necessary.
    It is true that in the final assault it is boots on the ground that count.
    HOWEVER, troops have to get to the staging point for the final assault.
    There are not enough helos available to the Army:-
    1) To move troops from A to B to surprise the enemy. Vehicle convoys are targets for IEDs and prediction as to where the troops are moving (watched by "dickers")
    2)Not enough Apache attack helicopters available. Much more effective for CAS (Close Air Support) than fixed wing.
    There may have been increases in the number of helos available in the last year, but it was from a low base, and is still totally inadequate. Best estimate is that there are currently 12 Chinooks available for operations at any one time. It should be 50. The addition of Sea Kings later this year will be inadequate, they can not carry an adequate payload.
    Respectively
    Jim
    Ex-serviceman

  • Comment number 33.

    #31 KingCelticLion

    I suspect that you move in more esoteric circles than me, and I may not be referring to the same issues as yourself.

    My assumption has been that the US and UK can't have been so totally ignorant of the Pashtuns as they pretend (I might well be wrong in that!)

    Consequently, since the Taliban are so deeply embedded within Pashtun society, the only way to exert Western control is to destroy their social structure.

  • Comment number 34.

    Re The MOD they are as Incompetant as nulabour. 10 chinooks parked up at RAF Odiham. Who was the clever chap from mod who bought them?

    Dear american how much for these ten chinooks? Oh about X amount.

    Dear american CAN THEY FLY? EH MMM NO

    Top Oh I'L take them, we can park them up for ten years, TROOPS WONT NEED THEM, WILL THEY.

    (dont be FOOLED by gordons/nulabours CROCKodial tears, THEY HATE the British Army, Allways have Allways Will. love ira though whoeva she is)

  • Comment number 35.

    ITV News has a populus poll on its news site, it will does not make good reading for the Government !

  • Comment number 36.

    #34 dAllan169

    You should be aware that the incompetence of the UK Government shows a remarkable continuity whichever of your Tweedledee/dum parties are in power.

    The Chinook contract was signed by the "Official" Tories in 1995, and not by the "Provisional" Tories who came to power in 1997.

  • Comment number 37.

    We are asking the wrong questions yet again! Don't ask them 'what are we doing in Afghanistan?' They're not going to tell you the whole truth theyll just use terror as an excuse again and again. Be journalists and suggest something else. Something that is not a distant possibility. It doesn't take a genius to work out that the map of terror coincides with the map of gas and oil on Earth. Admittedly it opens up deeper wounds and questions the whole threat of terrorism which on the face of it show a lack of dignity and respect for those who have been killed as a result of terror. If you look past the guilt trip, let's start at the beginning shall we:

    December 4, 1997 - 'Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline' (to be built by Unocal) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm

    (Shortly after this, the deal goes sour. Suddenly the Taleban are enemy number one)

    October 7, 2001 - The United States, supported by Britain, begins its attack on Afghanistan, launching bombs and cruise missiles against Taliban military and communications facilities and suspected terrorist training camps.

    May 13, 2002 - 'Afghanistan plans gas pipeline (courtesy of Unocal)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1984459.stm

    December 13, 2002 - New Afghan leader enters Kabul (hes name is Hamid Karzai a former UNOCAL consultant)
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1708060.stm

  • Comment number 38.

    Post 36 ouch point taken although its the same safe jobsworths at mod.

    Incompetence from politicians has Gone Stratospheric. (cant get the Staff)

  • Comment number 39.

    #36

    That is very true, a Tory Minister at the time did order them , but who signed off the specification for them , I doubt it was the Minister.

    But what has NuLabour been doing with them over the past 12 years ?

    Might I suggest a plan , use them for spares and order some more with the correct specification this time ?

    If my understanding of the problem with them is correct , it was the electronics that were the problem, that leaves the rotors , the engines , the gearboxes , the dials , the undercarriage and god knows what else that could be used for spares.

  • Comment number 40.

    #30 Steve

    Thanks for the link. I noted that Jon Sopel repeatedly questioned did Sir Richard Dannet ask the 'Treasury' for more troops.

    I now refer back to my comment #27 paragraph 4. Just on the basis of what is available on this blog and supplied by the BBC:

    Sir Richard did not go to the MoD, but to the Treasury. I can only infer from this that the £3.4 billion of the MoD account has been spent/allocated already.

    So Sir Richard is going above the MoD so to speak, to the Treasury, who hold the contingency fund, beyond MoD original allocation.

    Therefore I would suggest/ hypothesise/ opine ( just getting ready for the conceptual JJ broadside for that), that the £3.4 billion obtained from Oldnat's figure, that I will independently verify, in answer to Average Cit has been exceeded. As we are now, even though we are only 3 months into the financial year, having Sir Richard go to the Treasury and Prime Minister.

    This would give support to Average Cits concern that that original figure of Afghan War costs might not be the correct one. Then as you correctly point out we have DofID costs, not just in Afghanistan.

    Also remember if you are injured in Afghanistan, and pensioned off. This cost does not come from the operational budget being discussed.

    If £3.4 billion is mentioned on NN, treat it will scepticism. 3 months in to the financial year and the BBC seem to be covertly telling us Treasury contingency funds seem to be now being directly approached.

    Oldnat. Interesting addition but that is not my next take on the situation.

    #32 Jim. When I left school I got a job as a metallurgist and worked on R&D for MoD projects when I was nnn19. Hat tip to brossen 99 yesterday.

    I could write here. But what I know is far too sensitive. Apologises to people who have asked questions that I could but can't answer.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 41.

    I am a soldier who has been a member of the army for 15 years, I have been angered by the headlines over the last few days and the media's unrelenting pursuit of blaming somebody for the recent deaths.

    Can I just say that as an Infantier and having served two tours in Afghan and I'm about to go out on my third I have never been better equiped, in the last 5 years we have recieved better boots body armour and weapons. Helicopters don't stop bullets, IED's or suicide bombers, I'm sick and tired of been used as a polictical pawn.

    Now I know we wouldn't have got half of the kit we have if it wasn't through public pressure and of course the media but it has become sicking how this is been played out and the papers should be ashamed.

    We all knew what we were getting involved in even more now than ever before, when I joined the army all we had to worry about was the IRA, now the kids that join are better educated and better equiped to make that decision than ever before. If you join the Infantry you know what you are going to do and it doesn't matter what color or creed you are you have the men around you and that is enough.

    I am not policticaly orientated infact I have never voted in my life so I guess I can't comment on how the country in run but what I can tell you is that when you say we are been betrayed by the goverment your wrong. I love my job and hope I can serve my country for another 7 years when I can retire. The British soldier prides himself on using what he has got to get the job done, we are at war, people die in war we all know this and except it. We have good military leaders who we trust, so please trust us. As long as there are people willing to strap bombs to there body, blow them selves up on the streets of our country and kill inocent people,YOU people then we will keep fighting, you are what makes Britan Great and to keep it and you safe I would give my life tomorrow.

  • Comment number 42.

  • Comment number 43.

    peace69 #37.

    "We are asking the wrong questions yet again!"

    thank you, a good post and the only one so far to mention the economic angle.

    two more references:

    http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/6962.asp
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Afghanistan_Pipeline

  • Comment number 44.

    #jr4412

    Still not got back to Oldnat

    17 years ago I went to someones house. They had got the game of Risk for Christmas, and had been playing all over the holidays.

    One of the players was losing and I was asked to take over. I had never seen the game before. Someone rolled me a smoke and I got down to playing.

    As they had been playing it for days I was a novice. I remembered reading somewhere that whoever controlled Afghanistan ruled the world.

    So with that tactic I began. 3 hours and many smokes later I ruled the world. Try it. (smoke optional)

  • Comment number 45.

    Afghanistan is not, has never been is is unlikely to ever be a country simply because from ancient times to now it has been a roadway from the west to the east or the east to the west. Ask anyone who has been there.

    We have no real justification other than a PR exercise begun by Bush as an extension to the mistakes made by both NATO countries and the USSR in the last century.

    The spin is "We are protecting democracy (whatever that is, especially in this context) and proving that we are doing something about international terrorism".

    This is such a load of ____________ insert appropriate word.

  • Comment number 46.

    42 KCL Yes Software. 41 fair comment mate if you are what you say you are.

    Be in NO Doubt Terror was/is/has been brought to this country by tony blairs nulabour. allowing muppets like captain hook to spout off his crap to other muppets. You Try it mate and your feet wont touch the ground.

    The Answer/Cure is Simple anyone found to have links with Terror should be given ye olde Boot

    I Trust/Hope for your sake and others that you are Aware that you and your mates are fighting people? from Brum and Bradford etc EH

  • Comment number 47.

    It's time those NATO states who are, at the present time, standing on the touchline got their boots on and lent a hand - if this isn't a mixed metaphor.

  • Comment number 48.

    KingCelticLion #44.

    re. RISK

    "I remembered reading somewhere that whoever controlled Afghanistan ruled the world.
    So with that tactic I began. 3 hours and many smokes later I ruled the world."

    the smoke, and the nostalgia, may have clouded your memory. ;)

    if you sit pretty in Australia and keep forces across Indonesia, you are unassailable; I take it your feloow players were incapacitated too?

  • Comment number 49.

    Whether the political reasons for being in Afghanistan are valid is a mute point. However, this is a NATO operation with 40 or so countries involved - yet the military casualties of the US, UK and Canada outnumber those of all of the remaining nations. The government owes it to our servicemen to negotiate a rotation to ensure a "fairer" distribution of the risk.

    The position regarding equipment is, I suggest, that the MOD historicaly plans for the LAST war. Hence, they expected WW2 to be fought using the same tactics and equipment that (eventually) worked in WW1. The troops deployed to Northern Ireland in 1969 were trained for war in northern Europe and it took years to develop equipment and tactics suitable for a peace keeping role AT HOME. The Falklands war was fought against troops at least partly lead by officers trained at Sandhurst and the Argentinians were partly equipped with the same weapons as the British because we sold them to them. The only Challenger tanks which worked properly when they were first introduced were the ones which were modified for desert warfare - they didnt get delivered because the order was cancelled when the Shah of Iran was deposed.

  • Comment number 50.

    So the whole Newsnight program was on Afganistan. Three of the 4 people where self-interestedly involved in supporting the war, two military and one from the corrupt Afgan Government. and one woman who was against the war.
    Paxton allowed the three in favour of the war to make long statements in supporting the war. But as soon as the women tried to make the opposite case she was constantly interupted by Paxton and with what she said being dismissed by him (like the voting figures)
    It is annoying when you cannot hear the end of three sentences of explanation without such interruptions. Let Paxton contradict what people are saying. But let them finish their short statement first.

    Len Burch

  • Comment number 51.

    #47 oldJohnno

    And just what are the war aims and the exit strategy that these countries should commit to?

  • Comment number 52.


    If the taliban /al qiuda are watching they must be laughing their heads off - brigadier Butler looked like a commedian, and the guy who is on now sounds like an RBS banker. Im sorry for the soilders who have to work for these muppets.

  • Comment number 53.

    How on earth when we, the US and Russia can't defeat the Taleban, are the Afghans going to prevent a resurgence once we leave!! It's absolute madness! Rory Stewart is the ONLY person who has any clue what's going on here.

  • Comment number 54.

    lenburch #50.

    "..constantly interupted ... being dismissed.."

    yes, that's Jeremy Paxman's trademark style.

    I'm concerned that they can talk for what seems to be hours, peppering their speeches liberally with "terror" and other such emotive words, yet never once mention the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline project.

  • Comment number 55.

    I was in the armed forces for 10 years, I served in Northern Ireland during the troubles and overseas.
    I was nearly killed in a friendly fire incident and fully understood that I could have been called upon to go into combat at a moments notice. I also fully understood that I could die in the service of my country. It was a real possibility even though I was not a front line soldier.
    The armed forces is a fantastic life for a young person, man or woman. The training, lifestyle and friendship can last a lifetime.
    During times of conflict there is less time for R&R and and greater need for combat training, dangerous patrols and tough missions.
    I was fortunate that during my time I didnt witness combat patrols, but several of my colleagues died or were seriously injured in active service, or sadly during training missions.
    There seems to be media manipulation of the stats and opinions to give a very negative view of the governmaent, commanders and the guys on patrol. Every time I see a mother in tears paraded infront of the TV cameras it makes me feel sick. If I had died on active service I would not have wanted my death to be used as a political tool. I fully understood what could happen and frankly I would join up again if I was able.
    The government know that soldiers are going to die, they have predictions and acceptible losses.
    War is a battle of attrition and people must die in a conflict. It cannot be helped, but each death must not be used to apply pressure to pull out. 15 deaths in this recent conflict, is, I would imagine, well within the governments estimates, as unfortunate as they are.
    After the Falklands and both gulf wars the dead were honored, now dead soldiers have their mothers grief used to make political gains and it makes me sick.
    The media sensationalise each death and blow it out of proportion.
    I believe that this is now down to the fact that the reasons we are in Afganistan are not understood by the public, we now receive instant images of soldiers on both sides dying and in our world of health and safety, and computer games with a reset button we expect to make war with out loosing a single life.
    That is not possible
    We should honour their sacrafice and not parade the families on TV.
    I look back at past wars and if I had been asked to land in Normandy in 1944 or fight in the Falklands, I truly believe I would have sttod up to the line and been counted.
    The government should justify how and why we are there with out ambiguious statements such as "the war on terror" or "domestic security" and have a clear goal.
    If we do not have that, then the government are wide open to critisism. This is not helped by the WMD's that were never found, which of course leads to distrust of what we the public are led to believe.
    If we are truly needed in Afganistan then we must stay.

  • Comment number 56.

    My man is due to go out there in September and I can't explain how proud I am of him. I believe that they do need more equipment, but I do not blame Gordon brown for this. Either way if he gives more troops or whatever then he still will be hated through the public. I believe we need to keep fighting, if we don't then what have thoughs brave women and men fought for? As much as I would love my partner to stay here with me he can't. His own words are that he has signed up to fight for queen and country and that's what he us doing and I am so proud! If we pull out I believe terrorist attacks will become vast in Britain. It's very sad. Lets all support our armed forces they are doing an amazing job! RIP the heroes that have passed!

  • Comment number 57.

    #48 jr4412

    We weren't incapacitated, we were focused at a higher level on the mission in hand. We were at one with the totality of the situation. ;)

    Only played it once. As I won, I retired undefeated. It is a trait of mine.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
    -- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

    I take your point over Australia. But in the situation the player who ended up with that final strategy, had to capitulate. Yes sat pretty. But that was all they could do. I ruled the rest, everything.

    We could call that the Nevil Shute 'On the Beach' scenario, if you agree.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Beach_%28novel%29

    Celtic Lion

    Oldnat: still not go back apologies. It's not just you. I have to reply to West Surrey Girl-Why I don't hate women. And Ecolizzy the macro economics of planetary management as opposed to the political gameplay of 'climate change'.

  • Comment number 58.

    The Pashtun have their land divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
    They have been waging war for a long time to get their homeland united, (since the time of the Sufi freedom fighter the Faqir of Ipi at least) .
    If they were given an autonomous region like the Kurds in Iraq, you would get peace.
    Mohammad Zahir Shah understood this and you had peace for 40 years under his rule.
    When the great Afghan poet Dr. Majrouh carried out a survey in the camps in the 1980s Afghans overwhelmingly wanted the king back, they wanted a constitutional monarchy and no sharia law.
    Why was this ignored?

  • Comment number 59.

    The Taliban mostly make life miserable to Muslims. Why are not other Muslim countries fighting the Taliban?
    There is no need for Britain to be in Afghanistan. The argument about ensuring our security is bogus: there would be no security threat to us if had we not chosen to go into Afghanistan and Iraq.

  • Comment number 60.

    Firstly well done on having a whole programme on a difficult but important subject.

    For once the BBC aired a range of views,although Paxman did tend to jump on the anti-war woman a bit. The conclusion was that the current aims cannot be achieved and that we are under-resourced. We need to be more realistic and aim lower.

    The Armed Forces Minister who came on put in a poor shameful effort by churning out spin when asked specific questions. He also failed to put a clear case for the war and talked drivel when asked why it takes a year to switch 8 Merlin helicopters from Iraq to Afghanistan. If he is in charge of things no wonder we are in a mess.... My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and I fear they are not going to be short of company.

  • Comment number 61.

    It is appalling that soldiers are sent out to Afghanistan without proper army supplies, in terms of equipment, food, sanitation etc. The Brigadier had been out to Afghanistan and had fought there - he was the most qualified person to speak about the war. Brilliant, thought provoking questioning by Jeremy with all the guests, particularly the mother of the soldier who had been killed out in Afghanistan. Excellent report by Matt Prodger on the Welsh Guards too.

    For the doubters who say that the US & the former USSR could not defeat the Afghanis, we now have up to date technology, equipment and drones to pinpoint where the enemy are, unlike the past. The problem is giving the troops proper equipment.

  • Comment number 62.

    Just tried to watch the Afghanistan programme. Extremely poor and unengaging. Have read many interesting articles on the subject from an array of excellent commentators. Why couldn't Newsnight use any of them? Apart from the poor discourse, Paxman in his usual way interrupted contributors trying to put forward some sort of reasoned argument. Newsnight continues to disappoint.

  • Comment number 63.

    All day, whenever he has been asked to say how many extra helicopters have been sent to Afganistan, the minister has been banging on about how the number has increased by 60%. An effort to make it sound as though the government has made a huge increase.
    60% increase - from 5 to 8. Gee.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ # 58, King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan had been overthrown by his brother who wanted to rule Afghanistan. He overthrew him by getting help from the Soviets. However, during the cold war times, the US went into fight anti-communism - and there started the 30 year war.

  • Comment number 65.

    I have just watched J Paxman ask why it takes a year to transfer 6 merlins. I was taken aback by the reply that operational adjustments are needed. My father was in the fleet air arm during the Falklands war April, May & June 1982 ; he did not go down with the task force but was sent away as part of a team to create the new Airborne Early Warning Sea king helicopter which did not exist until the war started and AEW was glaringly absent in the task force. My father, as an engineer CPO , sailed with his squardron on HMS Illustrious in August 1982 consisting of Two AEW sea kings. From concept to opeations a new helicopter was created wthin 3 months and in theatre 8000 miles away. That was 27 years ago! Why so long now?

  • Comment number 66.

    Afghanistan was important when we went into Iraq, but this govenment chose to participate in the Iraq war despite huge public demonstrations and petitions against the war. And did so in co operation with the Americans who despite detailed advice did not have a strategy for dealing with the aftermath of the "easy" victory. This left Afghanistan to fester and the Taliban to grow in strength.
    Now, we have our guys out there without the necessary equipment and back up to do the job demanded of them by an incompetant government. This Labour government, is bankrupt. They have spun (if not lied) their way through the last 12 years, we are now financialy bankrupt, morally bankrupt and and are being led by an incompetant man who is the worst chancellor in the countries history and is now proving to be an even worse prime minister. Setting a defence budget is not rocket science. Activity based costing should provide a basic solution and the argument that it all takes time is now a very bad joke, how long do they need? Surely it can not be blamed on pre 1997 policies, as every other problem has been.

  • Comment number 67.

    Good points Mokusiga rgearding the families. As for WMD I have often wondered why the media have never asked what happened to the very large file prepared by Sadam explaining what he had done with the stuff. Last recollection I have is of news shots of it coming off an aircraft with the comment that the Americans were taking care of it because they had the photocopying facilities to deal with it!! The media might also benefit from seeing if they could track down what the USAF intranet said about Iraq's capabilities at the start of Gulf War2 - oddly enough I think they might find it said something different from the "dodgy dossier." Why were the troops crossing the start line at the start of the ground war not driving closed down? Were they wearing NBC kit? Perhaps they were but my impression from this distance in time is that they weren't. Bit odd really if the threat level was so high

  • Comment number 68.

    I think that we have a government that has neither the brains or the balls to provide enough of the equipment for our troops that are in Afghanistan which is fit for purpose.
    We listen the lies, platitudes and excuses (still lies) that they give about how they (politicians) have deployed this and that to our troops, but yet they are in the main still tavelling by road to reach a lot of their objectives, when, if taken by Helicopter it would be far quicker and one hell of a lot safer for them.
    My suggestion would be for some of those overweight, indolent self opinionated people got their trainers on, got down to fighting weight, ie: forces style, put on a uniform and then go out to Afghanistan and see if they could cope with the hardships and fear that the troops are suffering for a Political pipedream.

  • Comment number 69.

    KingCelticLion #57.

    "We could call that the Nevil Shute 'On the Beach' scenario.."

    time, then, for the 'suicide pills'??

    (is there a connection between KCL and Jack's forge?)

  • Comment number 70.

    Could I just say thanks to the Mods and the NN webteam.

    Tonight I truly believe you are running the blog of the Country's premier flagship news programme as it should be run.

    You are modding as fast as is required and you are not stomping on comments for minor indiscretions, thus allowing the required amount of humour through.

    I don't know what you have done. But tonight I believe you have done it right.

    My sincerest thanks and that 'might' also be from the regulars as well. ( As I would not want to use the all inclusive 'we' without their consultation). (Not wanting to be hoisted by the petard of a constant theme here).

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 71.

    JUST HEARD BROWN ON CLIMATE

    He says the evidence for man-made change is irrefutable. He should stick to fiddling money. There is a serious body of conflicting evidence in the scientific arena (as opposed to the political opportunist one) and no one has yet 'added in' the unacknowledged electrical (plasma) properties of the space in which this planet is 'bathed'.

    Incidentally: are NASA more sensitive to lightning than they were before Columbia broke up, after no-way being zapped by high altitude lightning?

  • Comment number 72.

    PROS AND CONS

    #37 A very 'nice' post.

    #41 What you describe looks close to 'extreme paintballing' to me.

  • Comment number 73.

    #69 jr4412

    My we are quick aren't we? And you are new to the Gladiatorial arena of the NN blog? And on a night where those of the regular rapid response teams seem absent.

    KCL and Jack's Forge? Not that I know of, or of any prior intention. There is a story behind Celtic Lion and has had some Scot's politicians convulsing with laughter, others as one phrase goes "kicking pebbles".

    So now I must be aware to investigate Jacks's Forge. And still not have got back to Oldnat, Ecolizzy or West Surrey Girl.

    Blogging must follow some similar mathematical equations as stacking in air traffic control.

    Jacks's Forge? "I shall return".

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 74.

    I see the rapid response team has turned up.

    At last.

  • Comment number 75.

    Hi watched the Afghanistan in/out debate tonight, couldn't help nearly choking on my supper when the topic of corrupt Afghan politicians arose as one excuse for our forces being there, having watched our expenses scandal just being exposed, we couldn't really have any complaints if the Afghans sent a task force to install a better government system in our country..Tit for Tat, hypocrisy.
    It would make more sense to recall our troops and set up better border and customs stations to weed out all illegal immigrants etc, and re-direct the 4 billion pounds a year on making this country at least a second or hopefully a first world nation again..

  • Comment number 76.

    Good programme but with all due respect to the analysis it did not really tackle what happens if you withdraw.

    If the Talibs in Afghanistan then started flowing into Pakistan for operations against an isolated military, that is possibly in denial about what it confronts, what happens to Pakistan and its nuclear weapons?

    Should Al Qaeda get a weapon what could they do? A Saudi oil field? London? They can't get the weapons and if you are the Arab League or a Western state you don't want that to happen.

    Pakistan has to be turned around.

    Obama is right AfPak is the strategy but perhaps it should be PakAf?

    Win in Pakistan and then win in Afghanistan and withdraw to leave them in peace.

  • Comment number 77.

    ARROGANCE OF THE LONG DISTANCE GUNNER (#75)

    I noted the same thing stu. By the time we have alienated a large chunk of the world population (all over again) we are going to need those boarder defences. But before we deploy the troops that way, let's use them to mount a top (brassed off) brass led coup, and put all the politicians on trial - starting with Tony. We'll soon see how effective that Teflon is against the abrasion of a bit of stark reality.

  • Comment number 78.

    #75 mid_age_stu

    Oh I do love the Brits!! Such a wonderful sense of pretend superiority!

    "making this country at least a second or hopefully a first world nation again"

    Good one! And that idea of ringing the borders with troops to weed out the immigrants - fabulous!

  • Comment number 79.

    A frequent lament is why Nazis pretend not to be Nazis and then try to preach National Socialism?

    The Nazis at the end of the war did provide suicide pills for their followers and those such as Goering did use one to avoid the hang mans noose at Nuremburg.

    Fortunately they don't have the death penalty in Belfast - where that poor Romany woman was beaten the other day.

    The far right - that does not do politics as is obvious - will surely be convulsing with shame?


  • Comment number 80.

    Interesting programme - and a fine tribute to Donald McCormick who was a star presenter of BBC Scotland's 'Current Account' long before Newsnight:

    " When I joined BBC Scotland full-time in 1973 I became a current affairs researcher then director on the weekly Current Account, presented by, amongst others, Ken Cargill, Donald McCormick, and John Milne. The per programme budget was £1400, and we had a week to research, a week to film, and a week to edit and transmit. We seemed to do an awful lot of stories about poor housing in Glasgow... I left to make films about Talented Pets for That's Life! with Esther Rantzen...
    Colin Cameron, Controller Network Development, BBC Nations and Regions"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/aboutus/wirelesstoweb/remember/index.shtml?decade=70s

    Paxman's grilling of Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell was frightening:
    these politicians really do not have a clue ..... the non-answer on why
    it takes a year to move helicopters from Iraq to Afghanistan was scary!

    Interesting too how they all deferred to Rory Stewart but then begged to differ ...... But I was a little worried by his throw-away comment that
    Afghanistan was 'a country like Nepal or Pakistan'? No it isn't ... and
    that did seem an extraordinary statement from someone who has walked in
    all three - head clearly buried in books ??!! There may be similarities
    in terrain but e.g. there are no Maoists in Helmand - yet ..... surely?

    As Jeremy says: this is a war in a faraway country about which most of us know very little ........ And in the land of the blind the one-eyed
    Old Etonian is still King of the marshlands????!!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Stewart

  • Comment number 81.

    I only watch what I believe to be intelligent, informed and balanced news bulletins, namely C4 news and Newsnight. Tonights "special" was abysmal and Paxmans performance a disgrace. He obviously allowed his own personal views to come to the fore and dismissed Lindsey German out of hand- despite her being outnumberwed by the pro-war military or ex military spokesmen. This debate has degenerated to the xenophobic, simple minded level of the tabloids. BBC - you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

  • Comment number 82.

    #6 Jaded_Jean

    "Why Britain? Is it because the USA and UK have powerful Israeli lobbys and the others (bar Israel) don't? Why does Britain and the USA think it can do what the USSR could not? Is it just a coincidence that Iraq and Afghanistan flank Iran?"

    Is it coincidence that the BNP supporters who revere Hitler and blame Jews for all of their ills because of the so called Jewish Communist International should raise Israel on a programme about Afghanistan?

    Do all far right supporters take a water boarding course for fun - spend their youths with their heads in a rock pool - just to experience the pain and suffering they could inflict on others?

    Do people who revere Hitler chew carpet because they are insane or because the carpet tastes good?

  • Comment number 83.

    # jr4412

    can't find any connection between KCL and Jack's Forge. What did you think the connection was?

    Go1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8onbDZmAwhE

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 84.

    #83 KingCelticLion

    I don't know if this is what was meant, but Jacksforge is an American posting regularly on Justin Webb's America blog.

  • Comment number 85.

    Instead of listening to others why dont we speak to the actual men and women who are out there and ask.. Do you need equipment? Do you feel we are progressing well? Ect. They are the brave people who are doing the fighting let them have a say lets do a poll of what they believe! Not the British public because there are ignorant people who don't support our troops one bit. Lets ask the profesionals our armed forces in afghan and get the real answers! I'm so proud that my partner will be out there in September! I'm scared but VERY PROUD!

  • Comment number 86.

    #84 Oldnat

    Thanks. You're up late. If you are still up now, click on the link in 83 comments. Probably gone in the morning.

    Seems to be a trend on the site.

    Still don't know the connection between KCL and Jack's forge even if on Justin Webbs site.

  • Comment number 87.

    KingCelticLion #73, #83.

    "Blogging must follow some similar mathematical equations as stacking in air traffic control."

    alternative: karma.

    "..story behind Celtic Lion.." & "..connection between KCL and Jack's Forge."

    when next you find yourself near a Dorset beach let me know, we could swap stories then?!

    re. sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFHIj8J3GaM&feature=related

  • Comment number 88.

    Eegg 7777 I couldn't help but read your comment and say... What would you call the July bombings? It was a terrorist attack and if we pull out now I assure you sometime, they will strike back killing innocent people it's what they do and it's what our armed forces are fighting against. Fighting for queen and country, and for us to even have our own opinions.RIP the fallen heroes!

  • Comment number 89.

    #87 jr4412

    Valley Forge is the spaceship in Silent Running

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Running

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdAa2ktmWFc

    Celtic Lion is easy to find but a long way from a Dorset Beach

  • Comment number 90.

    #42

    KingCelticLion

    Just looked it up on Wiki and it says the first of the 8 Chinook HC3's has now been fitted with a new avionics system and it went on its first test flight last week.

    So maybe there will be a positive outcome after all.

  • Comment number 91.

    KingCelticLion #89.

    PH106LX?

  • Comment number 92.

  • Comment number 93.

    #91

    sounds familiar. Have you got the wordpress one

  • Comment number 94.

    KingCelticLion.

    #92. thanks, memories..
    #93. yes, reading now.

  • Comment number 95.

    23. At 7:25pm on 13 Jul 2009, oldnat wrote:
    #18 JunkkMale


    So, still no answer to the actual question then? I wish I had Mr. Paxman's tenacity.

    I popped over to Guido as you suggested and, though still to be confirmed, he seems to be suggesting (as you seem unable to) this is a first: Guido cant recall a time when the BBC has got into bed with a newspaper like this imagine the uproar if the BBC had co-sponsored a poll about immigration with the Daily Mail.

    So, we do get the Daily Mail in. Result! And no, I don't think the BBC should be hooking up with them either. On anything. It's a right wing newspaper with a clear agenda that often trumps any objective news value.

    And with this in mind, while not quite the same as this one I'll grant you but I've preserved this on the fly poll question from one of the 'partners' as a nifty example of 'get the answer you would prefer' polling:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/poll/2009/apr/21/transport-transport?commentpage=2&commentposted=1

    And as for 'rules', in my experience, especially of late, those that quote things as abiding by them as a persuasive done deal in their unquestioning support are, at best, optimistic. Or Jacquie Smith.

  • Comment number 96.

    Having watched Newsnight last night, it has become much clearer to me what a difficult position the British Troops in Afghanistan have found themselves in, both in terms of objectives and safety. I was particularly moved by the emotional bravery that Mrs Margaret Evison showed when talking about her son, Lt Mark Evison, who has recently been killed in Afghanistan. It was quite evident from his diaries that he didnt think theyd had enough support in terms of even basic equipment.

  • Comment number 97.

    barrie (#71) "He says the evidence for man-made change is irrefutable."

    If he said that verbatim, and if he is indeed a clever man, presumably he and his scientific advisors will have known that in saying it was irrefutable, he was in fact saying that the case for anthropogenic climate change case is not scientifically sound, as to assert that a proposition is 'irrefutable' is to assert that it is nonsense or non scientific. That how scientists criticise each other when they encounter bad science or pseudoscience. It is the worset thing you can say to an opponent as scientific statements have to be testable, i.e refutable, if only in principle.

    Afghanistan: Rory Stuart's statements sufficed. The programme was clearly framed around his analysis/assertions/statements. To me, it meant that the troops are just there for ulterior purposes (to bully Iran?)

  • Comment number 98.


    What a complete mess of a programme! Directionless, disorganised and poorly put together. What were you trying to achieve? What hope do we have with Afghanistan, when the BBC can't even put together an intelligent programme on the subject?

  • Comment number 99.

    HYPOTHESES AND HIGH-ORDER SCIENCE (#97)

    Nice JJ - NICE!

    All I can say is: "I'm sorry - I 'ave ay cold!" (:o)

  • Comment number 100.

    Oh dear,oh dear, oh dear, I fear NN bloggers are now as bad as the media with their pompous talk of the fighting in Afganistan. This days postings haven't even acknowledged the comments from the soldier fighting there, or the ex soldier or the soldiers partner, how very sad. You all speak in (our) safe comfortable blogging station, about how stupid governments are, and the media don't report Afganistan properly, etc,etc,etc. And then when we get a post from someone actually fighting there we all chose to ignore it and prattle on about how much we know better than the poor sod fighting this war in our name.

    The soldier post said he did have enough equipment now etc. and as he is actually in that miserable country, I feel he should know. I like (probably) the rest of you, have never fought, and don't really understand how these soldiers can so freely be prepared to lose their lives. But us in our pompous way imply they are fools, deluded by government, and we all know much better. Reading through this lot, and seeing no-one comment on the real soldiers point of view, I think we should feel ashamed.

    I don't know what the answer is to any of these Islamic countries, I don't think fighting is the answer. Dragging the Islamic faith into the twentieth century would be a better aim, which we should call on the moderate muslims to do. Being an atheist I can never understand this adherence to faith, but some people seem to need this loopy state of affairs, so who am I to argue. But when it comes to killing and torturing in the name of religion I'm disgusted. If only people could except there is nothing after our lives, why people believe that they are going to a better place is beyond me. You're ashes or your compost, end of!

 

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